Startup founders — have you checked Dave’s references?

So here you go, you finally got Dave to join your startup. Dave is a full stack developer and knows his stuff. After graduating with a top computer science degree, Dave joined Twitter’s graduate program where he got to work with the latest technologies and super smart guys. 9 months after, he then got an offer from Pinterest he couldn’t refuse to work on their in-app messaging system. 6 months in the job, Dave did a fantastic job leading a small team to a Beta version.

You’ve met Dave at Demo day and got fascinated by his career so far and track record. You had numerous questions on his technological prowess. Dave responded diligently even showing interest in your startup and product. This is when you dare to ask the question: “Dave, we happen to be looking for a top full stack to help us build Twitter meets Pinterest meet Education”. To your surprise, Dave is keen. You immediately arrange an interview with your co-founder. You and your co-founder both have extensive experience in Education and have a vision to revolutionise how information is shared within and between universities. Interview goes superbly well and you make an offer to Dave slightly higher than what he gets at Pinterest to justify the move. With this new hire, you have about 5 months of running rate before you spend all the co-founders personal money.

You live the dream for the first few weeks. Dave seems busy. He definitely puts the all nighters considering how tired he looks when you meet for follow-up meetings. Four weeks later, you ask Dave to show his progress and he walks you through some incredibly complex lines of code. He seems confident you will have a MVP in three months. Two months later, the co-founders invite Dave excited to see a demo of their Beta. Dave asks for three more weeks as he has encountered some unexpected technical challenges. The co-founders get increasingly worried so they call in a friend who happens to be head of engineering in another tech startup. They show the app progress on Github. This is when the friend breaks the news: “This has been made by a dog. This is nowhere near a MVP. You can throw it all”. Five months have passed and they are back to square one. The co-founders have spent all their money and have nothing to show for it.

“This has been made by a dog. This is nowhere near a MVP. You can throw it all”.

If the co-founders had checked Dave’s references, they would have known he is not the world class full stack developer he’s pretending to be. The reality is that Dave cheated his way through Twitter graduate program. He got sacked but was clever enough to land a job quickly at Pinterest who at the time didn’t have stringent tests and reference checks. When the co-founders spoke to Dave, he had already been sacked by Pinterest for always showing up late and most of the time drunk.

The reality is that Dave cheated his way through Twitter graduate program.

Checking references is a tedious job. I believe we don’t do it as we are unconsciously scared to see what’s under the bonnet. It takes so much time and effort to attract someone who ticks the boxes. We usually end up with only one contender. We want to believe she is just the right one! But here is the reality, checking references is probably the most important thing you will do when you hire.

Checking references is probably the most important thing you will do when you hire.

Checking references means calling up people the applicant has worked with. Ideally three people the applicant has given the contact details of and two people in your network who might know her. It’s got to be a conversation (not an email with the usual questions). Ask things like “Why did she leave the company? What didn’t you like working with her? Would you hire her if you started a startup? How did her performance compare with other team members?”.

“Why did she leave the company? What didn’t you like working with her?”

If you ask the right questions and look for clues, it would give you a great insight about the applicant. It will even help you work with her as you know her strengths and weaknesses and personality traits.

Names, companies, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously

Joss Leufrancois is the founder & CEO of crowdsourced recruiting platform for startups, Visage. He has worked for 10 years recruiting in Europe, the US, South America, Asia and the Middle-East.

Crowdsourcing for Renewable-Energy Talent

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Remember how you recognized early on that renewable energy was the wave of the future? That’s why you’ve put yourself in a position to be at the forefront of this trend. Whether it’s solar, offshore wind or any other form of renewable energy, the industry is expanding so quickly, in fact, that it can be difficult to find green energy talent.

Visage helps you fill your renewable-energy jobs with people that are not looking. Passive talent makes up 75% of the talent market. Our platform helps clean energy employers connect with this talent instantly.

Crowdsourcing “Green” Talent

At Visage, we take the time to find the best candidates for renewable-energy jobs and put them right in front of you. We know how hard it can be to find suitable green energy talent. After all, more than 200,000 people already work in the solar industry alone. Even more impressively, experts expect this number to double by 2020.

It’s not just solar energy that’s experiencing growth though. In fact, 2015 saw the largest annual increase in renewable electricity in history. The only unfortunate aspect of this growth is the fact that it leads to a shortage of green energy talent as more renewable-energy jobs become available.

Leading the Way in Green Energy Talent

Cities all over the world are working toward increasing their renewable-energy capabilities, but the San Francisco Bay Area is leading investment in green tech. Unlike some other areas, they’re focusing on more than just one or two sources. In fact, the city hopes to reach the 100 percent renewable-energy mark through solar, wind, biomass, biofuels, geothermal and hydro-powered electricity.

Regardless of your company’s location, you can connect instantly with the best green energy talent through the Visage crowdsource model. You’ll have access to our specialists, who will crowdsource up to 250 candidates and handpick the 10 with the best qualifications for your position. Forget about taking a chance with job boards or recruiting agencies: You’ll find the best green energy talent through Visage every time.

Renewable Energy is Here to Stay

While the implications of the 2016 U.S. election may have you worried about the future of solar and other renewable energies, you can put those worries to rest. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or “NREL,” stated that “64 percent of electricity-capacity additions in 2015” were renewable sources.

There was once a time when policies could prove detrimental to the renewable-energy industry, but that time has passed. Economics alone will keep the growth in green-energy sources going strong, so it’s time to find the best-possible talent for your business.

If you’re ready to make your job easier, then let Visage help you recruit and hire the best green energy talent out there. Reach out to recruiters at Visage now, and you could have your next stellar employee in about three weeks.

Confessions of a Customer Success Manager

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As Customer Success Manager for Visage, my main objective everyday used to be: Make sure every client is happy at the end of the day, eager to come back and spend more. Simple right? Well it’s not really that simple.

As I have grown into my role, I have learnt that CSM involves a variety of processes but most importantly, it involves forward thinking – prevention is better than intervention! This is my main objective everyday now.

This means it is not necessarily the client that you are focusing on everyday, but rather the processes of the company and product that facilitate client engagement and experience. Be curious – test and track everything!

Recently, I have learnt that there are 3 main areas to work on:

  1. Success and Product Value:

As a company and team you need to clearly define, understand and promote what success is for the client. Do not be afraid to remind your clients what you promised and delivered. This is a vital step (and often completely missed). Reinforce your value: go back and tell your client what you promised, what you delivered and the value you provided. This is where we lost the mark – we did not even know ourselves what success for the client should be. This isn’t a bad thing, as long as you can recognize that and correct it.

  1. Effective Client Mechanisms:

CSM requires you to constantly learn and to put yourself in the client’s position. A client is 85% less likely to return if they need to provide a lot of effort for the service! To relate this to recruitment and our product – we aim to remove the pain of cost, time and effort, so why implement a long and drawn out feedback process for your clients that you are trying to save time on in the first place? This was our major downfall. We expected our clients to constantly critique each candidate along the way. You need to bring out your innovative side and think about a process that requires little effort but is still effective for you to provide what you promised.

  1. The Team:

A very important and surprising lesson I learnt recently is that CSM is not my job, but rather the entire team’s. It’s an operating system! As Customer Success Manager, you need to ensure your entire team is aligned and synced on every aspect of the product and process. Every team member is accountable for CSM, from the CEO and CTO to each freelance recruiter we have. Involve each team member in your ideas and the progress of each client – you will be pleasantly surprised at the input and value each one can add to the ultimate end goal – a happy and returning customer!

Overall, as a Customer Success Manager I encourage myself everyday to step out of my comfort zone and to take on functional roles that drive and deliver high product value. In fact, this blog post was one of my biggest challenges!

Jeanita Artz – Physical therapist turned start-up enthusiast and Customer Success Champ! Crossfit addict and a great cook.

 

 

 

Hello America! Joining the Alchemist

Do you ever wake up feeling something great is going to happen to you during the day? That’s the feeling I had last Wednesday morning. I knew the Alchemist accelerator results were due the night before. Although I knew we had a chance, I wasn’t overly confident having been rejected when we applied last. I decided however to trick my mind into believing an email had come saying: “Congratulations, you guys are rockstars and your product is dope”. This was the actual email:

and my reaction:

So why the Valley?

It starts with our ambition. My co-founders, Emmanuel and Barry, and I have always considered Dubai as a lab for what we think could have a global impact on the way recruitment is done. We have been able to experiment and make mistakes on a relatively tricky talent market. We knew however the local market even extended to the region wasn’t big enough. Visage’s ideal client is indeed one that requires to attract the top 10% of the talent market. It’s a client who operates in a candidate driven market where it is required to pro-actively target passive talent.

There is a reason why 98% of the unicorns are born in the Valley. This place has the most extraordinary concentration of brains, energy, and venture money.

We know it’s a cut throat place where winners take all. We embrace that. We don’t want to build another lifestyle average business. We want to revolutionise the way recruitment is done allowing talent and opportunities to connect instantly.

And the Alchemist?

We couldn’t dream of a better launchpad than the Alchemist for Visage. They only accept B to B startups and take them through a 6 months program designed to facilitate access to enterprise clients, mentors and, investors. They only take small cohorts (we will be 9 startups). The Alchemist track record is extraordinary. They’ve actually topped a survey ranking the accelerators by funding their graduates receive. Their startups median fund raise is twice higher than YC.

We are due to join the program on the 30th of November but we’ve already been connected to 3 mentors. My first mentorship session is with the former CEO of a freelance platform everybody knows…

So what now?

We are now busy preparing our acceleration program. It means making sure we carry on our growth in the Middle-East servicing clients. We are also closing a bridge round which will give us the ammunitions required to push our tech and marketing before graduating the Alchemist.

Feel free to reach out if you would like to participate in the venture. We need talent, smart money, and encouragements!

Joss Leufrancois is the co-founder & CEO of crowdsourced recruiting platform,Visage.